Acts 3:26
When God raised up His servant, He sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways."
Sermons
Christ and His BlessingT. Manton.Acts 3:26
Christ and His BlessingActs 3:26
Christ's Errand of MercyT. L. Cuyler.Acts 3:26
Christ's Mission to the JewsR. Tuck Acts 3:26
God's Plan for Making Us HappyJ. W. Norton, D. D.Acts 3:26
Sent to Bless YouW. Birch.Acts 3:26
The Blessed MissionH. Allon, D. D.Acts 3:26
The Blessedness of ConversionT. Webster, B. D.Acts 3:26
The Blessing of Christ in the HeartActs 3:26
The Generous Mission of ChristT. De Witt Talmage.Acts 3:26
The Gospel BlessingDean Vaughan.Acts 3:26
The Gospel Turns Men from SinJ. B. Walker.Acts 3:26
The Mission of Jesus ChristR.A. Redford Acts 3:26
The Return of the Affections to GodG. T. Noel, M. A.Acts 3:26
The Servant of the Lord and His BlessingA. Maclaren, D. DActs 3:26
A Great Sermon to a Wondering MultitudeR.A. Redford Acts 3:11-26
A Greater MiracleJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
Credit Due to ChristH. W. Beecher.Acts 3:11-26
Glory Due to ChristJ. Spencer.Acts 3:11-26
Glory to be Given to GodH. W. Beecher.Acts 3:11-26
Misapprehensions RemovedA. Hudson.Acts 3:11-26
Peter's AddressJ. T. McCrory.Acts 3:11-26
Peter's AddressMonday ClubActs 3:11-26
Peter's AddressJ. Bennett, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
Peter's SermonC. S. Robinson, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
Peter's SpeechJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
Show Me the DoctorActs 3:11-26
Solomon's PorchDean Plumptre.Acts 3:11-26
Solomon's Porch -- a Hallowed Spot for PeterG. T. Stokes, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
The Miracle At the Beautiful Gate as a TextD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
The Threefold Testimony of Peter Concerning ChristLisco.Acts 3:11-26
The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Conversion of MenR. W. Dale, LL. D.Acts 3:11-26
Trite CourageH. C. Trumbull, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
Witness of Peter to JesusE. Johnson Acts 3:11-26
Reasons for RepentanceW. Hudson.Acts 3:22-26
The Greatness of Jesus ChristW. Clarkson Acts 3:22-26
The Promised ProphetR. M. Edgar, M. A.Acts 3:22-26
The Prophet Like unto MosesJ. Orr, B. D.Acts 3:22-26
The Resemblance Between Christ and MosesW. Denton, M. A.Acts 3:22-26
SamuelHomilistActs 3:25-26
The Children of the Covenant, the Saviour's First CareE. Payson, D. D.Acts 3:25-26
Unto you first, etc. (Revised Version., "Servant," see margin). The Bible its own interpreter. All acknowledge the greatness, wonderfulness, perfection of the gospel portrait. Misconstruction of the facts by the Jew, by the unbelieving philosopher, by the mere moralist, by the rationalist. The last verse of the apostle's sermon a summing up Scripture and facts of history. So always revelation and history explain one another. The truly evangelical view of Christ the only one that appeals to the universal human heart.

I. THE INFINITE FOUNDATION ON WHICH THE GOSPEL RESTS. God raised up his Son (Servant); God sent him.

1. The twofold aspect of the Divine character thus presented to us. Love desiring to bless; righteousness requiring the putting away of iniquities. All is from the Father.

2. The person and the work of Christ revealed in their intimate union. "Raised up," comprehending the whole conception of the mediatorial exaltation of Jesus Christ. Difference between his history and that of any mere human agent raised up for action, the necessity for all that we find in the Scripture record. God knows it, though we may not see it.

3. The Scripture is not given to be worked up by men's devices into mere food for human pride; it is a practical Book, the foundation laid, to be built upon. Christ was sent to bless us, and we can find the blessing only as we seek it practically.

II. THE UNIVERSAL MESSAGE TO THE WORLD.

1. The moral state of all men shows the necessity for such a proclamation. "Your iniquities. The history of the gospel reminds us that the most religiously instructed were far from being the most godly. The superstitions and oppositions of the world multiply its iniquities, Man cannot turn himself to God.

2. The whole gospel must be preached, or its true success cannot be realized. The mutilated Christianity of our time is proving itself impotent. We must lead the hearts of men to a person; we must teach them dependence on a power; we must call them to newness of life, a life already made manifest through Christ, both in his history and in the history of his people. Then:

3. The blessing should be put first and foremost. Blessing which the world has been waiting for from the beginning, which it has been prepared for by the dispensations, which it received in germ in Abraham and his seed, but which is for all the families of the earth. Hence it was to the Jew first," as the consecrated messenger; but as the patriarchs were taken to the larger sphere of Egypt that they might come forth from it prepared to be God's messengers, so Christianity must be taken from its Judaistic standpoint, and put into the central position of the world's life, that it may draw to itself Greece and Rome, the East and the West, the whole nature and existence of humanity. So now the progress of man is from the emancipation of the individual, through that of the nation, to the cosmopolitan blessedness of mankind as a race. The mission of Christ is to each and to all. - R.







Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you.
I. GOD SENT JESUS TO BLESS US. We should have thought that after the Jews had slain the prophets, God would have had no more to do with them; or that if He sent His own Son, it would be to take vengeance upon them. But when the Jews murdered Jesus, what would you expect God to do? A human father could scarcely forgive such murderers; it needs a God to do that. What did He do? This: He raised up Jesus, and not to punish evil-doers, but to bless. Many look upon religion as a sad thing; but it is the most joyous inspiration of life. Jesus is not a taskmaster; He gives rest to the weary and help to the heavy-laden. He charms the dullest life, sweetens the bitterest cup, salves the deepest wound, heals the most stricken heart, gives joy to the sorrowful, peace to the troubled, hope to the despairing, pardon of sin to the penitent, salvation from the power of sin to the believer, and eternal felicity to all who trust Him.

II. GOD SENT JESUS TO BLESS US IN TURNING AWAY EVERY ONE OF US FROM OUR INIQUITIES. Without sin life would be very joyous; but when we yield to anything which we know to be wicked, gladness at once departs. A man may gratify his wicked propensity, and by so doing satisfy, for the time being, his physical appetite, but the hunger of his soul for peace is not satisfied. The greedy boy, who hides behind the door, away from his brothers, to eat the whole of his big apple alone, is fully satisfying his appetite, yet he is unhappy, and comes from his feast vexed, sullen, and spiritless. Had he divided the apple amongst his brothers, what a joyous lad he would have been! Greediness, or any other sin, brings sorrow to the soul.

1. The greatest blessing, therefore, that God can give us is to turn us away from our sins. We may turn away from sin in our outward life, and, at the same time, love and indulge it in our hearts; but Jesus would turn us from sin altogether; and in order to do so, He begins first with the heart. Make the fountain pure, and the stream shall be pure. The philosophy of the unbeliever tries to guide the human ship by outside pressure; but Jesus puts a rudder to it, and gives it a magnet of love to show its pathway in the trackless deep. He is not satisfied with half-measures. We must be turned away from our sins. There has been, unfortunately for the world, a church-organisation which has allowed its priests to sell indulgences for sin. But Jesus knows sin to be so hurtful, that He could not, at any price, give a licence to permit it. He came to take sin away. A man says, "If I do not cheat, I shall have to go to the workhouse." Jesus teaches us to reply, "Under such circumstances you would be happier if you walked along an honest path to the workhouse, than on the road of cheating to a palace." As you would hastily pass a house in which you know the small-pox to be, so would Jesus have us turn away from sin. May the Lord, likewise, turn away every one of us from our sins!

2. The text goes on to say, that God sent Jesus to bless us, in turning away every one of us from our iniquities. Then the worst man in the world is capable of being saved. Here is a man who has been guilty of many crimes, and is now standing at the bar to receive sentence. The judge may say within himself, "No good can be done with this man; he has been twice in penal servitude, and we must now get rid of him altogether." "Penal servitude for life!" But God dooms no man to life-servitude to sin. Jesus comes to open the prison doors in the soul of every one of us; and the man who is the chief sinner of this age may be saved. Your life may be like a tangled string, which you have tried to unravel, but failing to do so, you have thrown it among the ashes. That tangled string wearied your patience, and you gave it up; but though your life just now is like the tangled string, Jesus is not weary of blessing you, and in this world He will never give you up. As every tangled string can be undone, so every sinful life can be converted. God sent Jesus to bless such as you; and His skilful fingers, His loving heart, and His patient Spirit will work in you until you are like Himself.

III. JESUS TURNS US FROM OUR INIQUITIES BY —

1. The powerful inducement of pleasing God. To call upon a man to turn from iniquity because it will be a good thing for himself is to appeal to his lowest motive, and is not the most successful way in winning souls. To bribe a man by promising something good if he will serve the Lord, or to intimidate him by the threat of the torment of hell, is a popular way of winning men, but it is the least successful. The most powerful force in the heart of a child is the love which constrains him to obedience, because if he did wrong he knew it would grieve his mother. Jesus draws us effectually from sin by reminding us of the loving heart of God; our sin grieves Him, and it should pain us to grieve His loving heart.

2. Revealing the goodness of God. His goodness in first loving us should draw us to Himself. After Jesus had risen from the dead, He said, "Go and preach the gospel to every creature, beginning at Jerusalem." He was not angry because the Jews rejected and crucified Him; and there was nothing in His heart but love to them.

(W. Birch.)

Notice —

I. THE BOLDNESS AND LOFTINESS OF THE CLAIM WHICH IS HERE MADE FOR JESUS CHRIST.

1. Long ago Peter had said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." And as long as Jesus Christ had been with them none of them had wavered in that belief; but the Cross shattered all that for a time. "We trusted that it had been He that should have redeemed Israel." There had been plenty of pretenders to the Messiahship (Acts 5:36), and death had disposed of all their claims. And so it would have been with Christ, unless He had risen from the dead. But the faith and hope in His Messiahship which had died with Him on the Cress, rose with Him to newness of life — as we see from such words as these.

2. Now the characteristic of these early addresses contained in chap. 2.-4., is the clear decisiveness with which they put forward Christ as the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy. The Cross and the Resurrect el poured a flood of light on the Old Testament. Almost every word here has reference to some great utterance of the past, which now for the first time Peter is beginning to understand.(1) "God, having raised up His Son Jesus." The reference is not to the resurrection, but to the prediction in ver. 22. Now that prediction, no doubt, refers to the prophetic order, and the word, "a prophet," is a collective, meaning a class. But the order does not come up to the ideal of the prophecy. For the appendix to the Book of Deuteronomy is plainly referring to the prophecy, when it sadly says, "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses." The prophetic order, then, was a prophecy by reason of the very incompleteness of the noble men who composed it; not only by their words, but by their office and by their limitations, they pointed onwards to Him who not only, like the great law-giver, beheld God face to face, but from the beginning dwelt in the bosom of the Father and therefore declares Him perfectly to men. The manifold methods and fragmentary portions of the revelations to the prophetic order are surpassed by the one final and complete utterance in the Son, as noonday outshines the twilight dawn.(2) "His Son Jesus" means, literally, a "boy" or a "child," and like our own English equivalent, is sometimes used with the meaning of "a servant." For instance, we talk about "a boy," or "a maid," or "a man," meaning thereby to express the fact of service in a graceful and gentle way; to cover over the harsher features of authority. So the centurion in Matthew's Gospel, when he asks Christ to heal his little page, calls him "his boy," which our Bible properly translates as "servant." The reasons for adopting "servant" here rather than "son" are these: that the New Testament has a distinct expression for the "Son of God," which is not the word employed here: and that the Septuagint has the same expression which is employed here as the translation of Isaiah's, "the Servant of the Lord."(a) Now it is interesting to notice that this. expression as applied to Jesus Christ only occurs at this period. Altogether it occurs four times in these two chapters, and never again. Does not that look like the frequent repetition of a new thought which had just come to a man and was taking up his whole mind for the time? The Cross and the resurrection had opened his eyes to see that the dim majestic figure that looked out on him from the prophecy had had a historical existence in the dear Master whom he had lived beside; and we can almost perceive the gladness and surprise swelling his heart as he thinks — "Ah! then He is 'My servant whom I upheld.' Of whom speaketh the prophet this? Wonder of wonders, it is of Jesus of Nazareth, and we are His witnesses." If you turn to the second half of Isaiah's prophecies, you will find that they might almost be called the biography of the Servant of the Lord. And whilst I admit that the collective Israel is often intended by the title "the Servant of the Lord," there remain other parts of the prophecy which have distinctly a person for their subject, and which cannot apply to any but Him that died and lived again. For instance, is there anything which can correspond to the words, "when His soul shall make an offering for sin He shall see His seed"? Who is it whose death is the birth of His children, whom after His death He will see? Who is it whose death is His own voluntary act? Who is it whose death is a sacrifice for others' sin? Who is it whose days are protracted after death, and who carries out more prosperously the pleasure of the Lord after He has died?(b) But that name on Peter's lips is not only a reference to prophecy, but it is a very beautiful revelation of the impression of absolute perfection which Christ's character made. Here was a man who knew Christ through and through; and the impression made upon him was this: "All the time that I saw Him there was never a trace of anything but perfect submission to the Divine will." Jesus asserted the same thing for Himself. "I do always the things that please Him": "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" Strange claims from one who is meek and lowly of heart! Stranger still, the world, not usually tolerant of pretensions to sanctity, has allowed and endorsed the claim.(c) So the claim rises up into yet loftier regions; for clearly enough, a perfect and stainless man is either an impossible monster or something more. And they that fully believe that God's will was absolutely and exclusively done by Jesus Christ, in all consistency must go a step further and say, "He that perfectly did the Father's will was more than one of us, stained and sinful men."

II. THE DAWNING VISION OF A KINGDOM OF WORLD-WIDE BLESSINGS.

1. Peter and all his brethren had had their full share of Jewish prejudices. But I suppose that when they found the tongues of fire sitting on their heads they began to apprehend that they had been intrusted with a world-wide gospel. The words before us mark very clearly the growing of that consciousness, while yet the Jewish prerogative of precedence is firmly held. "Unto you first" — that was the law of the apostolic working. But they were beginning to learn that if there were a "first," there must also be a "second"; and that the very words of promise to the father of the nation which he had just quoted pointed to "all the nations of the earth" being blessed in the seed of Abraham. If Israel was first to receive the blessing, it was only that through Israel it might flow over into the whole Gentile world. That is the true spirit of "Judaism," which is so often spoken of as "narrow" and "exclusive." There is nothing clearer in the Old Testament than that the candle is lighted in Israel in order that it might shed light on all the chambers of the world. That was the genius of "Judaism," and that is Peter's faith here.

2. Then, again, what grand confidence is here! What a splendid audacity of faith it is for the apostle with his handful of friends to stand up in the face of his nation to say: "This Man, whom you hung on a tree, is going to be the blessing of the whole world." Why, it is like the old Roman story of putting up to auction in the Forum the very piece of land that the enemy's camp was pitched upon, whilst their tents were visible over the wall. And how did all that come? Was all that heroism and enthusiasm born out of the grave of a dead man? The resurrection was the foundation of it, and explains it, as nothing else can do.

III. THE PURELY SPIRITUAL CONCEPTION OF WHAT CHRIST'S BLESSING IS. What has become of all the Jewish notions of the blessings of Messiah's kingdom? That had not been the kind of kingdom of which they had dreamed when they had sought to be first in it. But now the Cross had taught Peter that Him hath God raised up a Prince and a Saviour to give — strange gift for a prince to have in his hand — "to give repentance unto Israel, and remission of sins."

1. The heart, then, of Christ's work for rice world is deliverance from sin. That is what man needs most. There are plenty of other remedies offered for the world's ills — culture, art, new social arrangements, progress of science and the like, but the disease goes deeper than these things can cure. You may as well try to put out Vesuvius with a teaspoonful of cold water as to cure the sickness of humanity with anything that does not grapple with the fundamental mischief, and that is a wicked heart. There is only one Man that ever pretended He could deal with that, and it took Him all His power to deal with it; but He did it! And there is only one way by which He could deal with it, and that was by dying for it, and He did it! So He has conquered. "Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook?" When you can lead a crocodile out of the Nile with a bit of silk thread round his neck, you will be able to overcome the plague of the world, and that of your own heart, with anything short of the great sacrifice made by Jesus Christ.

2. The secret of most of the mistaken and partial views of Christian truth lies here, that people have not got into their hearts and consciences a sense of their own sinfulness. And so you get a tepid, self-sufficient and superficial Christianity; and you get ceremonials, and high and dry morality, masquerading under the guise of religion: and you gel Unitarian and semi-Unitarian tendencies in churches. But if once there came a wholesome, living consciousness of sin all such mutilated Christianity would crumble.

3. So I beseech you to put yourself in the right place to understand the gospel by the recognition of that fact. But do not stop there. It is a matter of life and death for you to put yourselves in the right place to receive Christ's richest blessing. You can only do that by feeling your own personal sin, and so coming to Him to do for you what you cannot do for yourselves, and no one but He can do for you.

4. And notice how strongly the text puts the individuality of this process. "Every one" — or rather "each one." The inadequate notions of Christianity that I have been speaking about are all characterised by this amongst other things: that they regard it as a social system diffusing social blessings and operating on communities by elevating the general tone and quickening the public conscience and so on. Christianity does do that. But it begins with dealing with men one by one. Christ is like a great King, who passing through the streets of His capital scatters His largesse over the multitude, but He reserves His richest gifts for the men that enter His presence chamber. Even those of us who have no close personal union with Him receive of His gifts. But for their deepest needs and their highest blessings they must go to Christ by their own personal faith — the flight of the solitary soul to the only Christ.

(A. Maclaren, D. D)

I. THE PARTIES CONCERNED. Why was the first offer of Christ made to the Jews?

1. Because they were the only Church of God for that time. And God hath so much respect for the Church, that they shall have the refusal and the morning-market of the gospel.

2. They were the children of the covenant (ver. 25). God follows a covenant people with more offers of grace than others.

3. Christ came of them after the flesh, and was of their seed (Romans 9:5), to teach us to seek the salvation of our kindred first.

4. That He might magnify His grace and faithfulness, not only in the matter of the gospel, but even in the first offer of it (Romans 15:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:14, 15).

5. This was necessary too for the confirmation of the gospel. Christ did not steal into the world privately, but He would have His law set up where, if there were any falsehood in it, it might easily be disproved; and because the main of the Jewish doctrine was adopted into the Christian, and was confirmed by the prophecies of the Old Testament, they were the only competent judges to whose cognisance these things should be first offered.

6. That the ruin of that nation might be a fit document and proof of God's severity against the contemners of the new gospel (Acts 13:45-47).

7. That the first ministers might be a pattern of obedience, to preach where God would have them, to preach in the very face and teeth of opposition.

II. THE BENEFIT OFFERED: wherein is set forth the great love of God unto the people to whom the gospel comes.

1. In designing such a glorious person as Jesus Christ: "having raised up His Son Jesus."

2. In that He gave notice, and did especially direct and send Him to them: "hath sent His Son."

3. Why He came among them in His Word: it was "to bless them."

III. THE BLESSING INTERPRETED. They expected a pompous Messiah, that should make them an opulent and potent nation. But Christ came to convert souls unto God.

IV. WHAT IT IS TO BE TURNED FROM SIN. Take these considerations:

1. Man fallen, lay under the power and guilt of sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). So man was both unholy and guilty.

2. Christ came to free us from both these.

(1)The guilt (Ephesians 1:7);

(2)and the power (Titus 3:5).

3. To be turned from sin implies our whole conversion. Though one part only be mentioned, the term "from which," yet the term "to which" is implied (chap. Acts 26:18).

4. That remission of sins is included in our conversion to God (ver. 19, chap. Acts 5:31).

V. IT IS A BLESSED THING TO BE MADE PARTAKERS OF THIS BENEFIT. Blessedness imports two things —

1. An immunity from, or a removal of, the great evil, and that is sin.

(1)The great cause of offence between God and us is taken out of the way (Isaiah 59:2).

(2)We are freed from the great blemish of our natures (Romans 3:23).

(3)We are freed from the great burden of sin.

(4)Being turned from our sins, we are freed from the great bane of our persons and all our happiness (Psalm 32:1, 2; Romans 8:1).

2. The enjoyment of positive good. It is a blessed thing to be turned from our sins because —

(1)This is the matter of our serenity, comfort, and peace here (Isaiah 32:17).

(2)It is the pledge of our eternal felicity hereafter; for heaven is the perfection of holiness, or the full fruition of God in glory (Hebrews 12:14; Ephesians 1:13, 14).

(T. Manton.)

I. GOD RAISED UP HIS SON JESUS TO BE A PROPHET (ver. 22, Deuteronomy 18:15).

1. To teach the will of God (Isaiah 61:1).

2. To expound it to us (John 14:2; John 15:15).

(1)By His prophets (1 Peter 3:19; Nehemiah 9:30).

(2)Himself (Hebrews 1:1, 2; Hebrews 2:2, 3).

(3)His apostles (2 Corinthians 5:19, 20).

(4)His ministers (Ephesians 4:11, 12).

II. GOD SENT HIM.

1. By promise in the Old Testament (1 Peter 1:10, 11; 1 Peter 3:19; Genesis 3:15).

2. In person in the New (Galatians 4:4, 5).(1) First to the Jews (Acts 2:39; John 4:22).

(a)He was first promised to them.

(b)Born of them.

(c)Manifested Himself first among them (Matthew 4:12, 17).(2) To the Gentiles also (Acts 2:39; Acts 11:18; Acts 15:7-9; Galatians 3:14; Genesis 22:17, 18).

III. HE WAS SENT TO BLESS US (Genesis 22:17, 18).

1. To purchase a blessing for us (Galatians 3:13, 14).

2. To apply it to us.

IV. HIS GREAT BLESSING IS CONVERSION FROM SIN (Psalm 1:1; Psalm 32:1, 2). lsit not a blessed thing to know —

1. Our sins pardoned (Matthew 9:2).

2. God reconciled (Romans 5:1).

3. That we have an interest in Christ (1 John 3:24).

4. To have a pacified conscience (2 Corinthians 1:12).

5. To delight ourselves in the best things (Psalm 1:2).

6. To be related to God (Galatians 4:6).

7. To have all things blessed to us (Romans 8:28).

8. To have an infallible evidence of our title to heaven (Romans 8:1; Matthew 25:46).

V. CHRIST HAS PURCHASED THIS BLESSING FOR US (Matthew 1:21; 1 Peter 1:18; Titus 2:14; 1 John 3:8).

1. What?

(1)Pardon; therefore conversion (Ezekiel 18:30; chap. Acts 2:38).

(2)Peace with God; therefore conversion.

(3)Redemption from misery; therefore conversion (Luke 13:3).

(4)Heaven; therefore conversion (John 3:16; Hebrews 13:14).

2. How? Note —

(1)All men are sinners.

(2)Christ undertook to cleanse us from our sins.

(3)This could not be but by purchasing the same grace we lost by sin.

(4)No way to obtain grace but by the Spirit of God.(Ezekiel 36:27; Numbers 14:24).

(5)God would not send His Spirit until man's sins were satisfied for, and so God reconciled.

(6)Christ by His death satisfies for sin (1 John 2:2).

(7)And so purchased the donation of the Spirit (John 16:7).

(8)The Spirit sent into our hearts, turns us from sin (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

(Bp. Beveridge.)

I.GOD'S GRACIOUS ACT, "Raised up Jesus."

II.GOD'S MERCIFUL PURPOSE, "To bless you."

III.GOD'S BLESSED WAY, "By turning every one of you," etc.

IV.GOD'S GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT, "To you first"

(H. Allon, D. D.)

I. THE WORK IS NOT DESCRIBED ONLY AS CHRIST'S, BUT RATHER AS GOD'S WORK IN CHRIST. We are too ready to make a difference; to think of God as all justice, and of Christ as all love. In past days men had used a loose and unscriptural language about Christ's calming God's wrath. The language of Scripture is always this: "God so loved the world," etc. What things soever the Son doeth, these also doeth the Father likewise. There is but one will, one work. Never run away from God, but ever seek Him and see Him in the Son.

II. CHRIST HAS A MISSION TO US. There is no thought more delightful than that of the mission of Christ as He now is in heaven; of His having an errand, and apostleship still towards us (Hebrews 3:1). We are all called to from heaven: that is the meaning of "partakers of a heavenly calling." We are all like Saul of Tarsus when Jesus Christ spoke to him suddenly from heaven. Christ is calling to us. In His Word, by His minister, in conscience, by His Spirit also. And then, as we recognise this truth, we are told also to fix our thoughts upon Him as "the apostle of our profession" (or confession). God has sent, is sending, Him to us, with a message, addressed to each one of us separately, "every one of you," not a vague, general, promiscuous mission, but a direct and single one to each. You are not lost in a crowd. If this be so, "how shall we escape if we neglect so great," because so minute and so personal, "a salvation?"

III. A MISSION OF WHAT SORT? Is it that of One who comes from the dead to appal and to terrify? the apparition of a reprover and a prophet of evil? Hear the text: "to bless you"; to speak well of you; to declare good to you; and in the very act of doing so, to communicate the good of which He tells. Is not this the very notion of a Gospel? It is not a threatening, a reproof, it is not even a condition of acceptance, or a rule of duty: it does not say, like the Law, "Do this, and thou shalt live": its essential character is that of an announcement; tidings of something already done; the good news of some change which God has made in our state and in our prospects. And what is that? Surely that God forgives us, whatsoever we are. God sent Him not to curse, but to bless; not to judge the world, but to save.

IV. How is THIS MISSION OF BLESSING MADE EFFECTUAL?

1. Is it a flattering of human vanity, a lulling of human indolence, the intelligence that God has forgiven, and that therefore man may lie asleep in his sins that, where sin abounded, grace did much more abound, and that therefore we may continue in sin if only to swell the triumphs of Divine grace? None of these things. "Sent Him to bless you, in turning away each one of you from his iniquities."

2. Does this description of Christ's work seem to militate against the former? Does any one say, Then, after all, the gospel is a law: it is only the old story once again, You must be holy, and then God will save? Oh the ignorance and the hardness of these hearts of ours! Is there no difference between working for forgiveness and working from forgiveness, between being holy because we are loved, and being holy that we may be loved, between the being commanded to turn ourselves from our sins, and the being blessed by finding ourselves turned from them by another? Your hearts tell you that there is all the difference! Which of us knows not something of the force of gratitude? Which of us has not felt that it is one thing to please a person as a duty, and another to please a person out of love? Which of us has not known the strange effect of a word or an act of affection, from one whom we are conscious that we have injured? how it sometimes rolls away the whole barrier between us, makes us ashamed of our ill-temper, and heaps coals of fire upon our head? Even thus is it with the man whom God has forgiven. How did David begin to inquire, "What reward can I give unto the Lord for all His benefits that He hath done unto me?" and answer himself, saying, "I will receive the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord": yea, I will love much, having been much forgiven!

3. But there may be some here present who cannot understand the connection of the words. They may be saying, I know that my sins are wrong; and I can understand being required to part with them: but how can it be a blessing to give up this pleasant thing which sin is to me? But does your sin make you happy? Have you found the pleasure of sinning as great as its anticipation? Have you found the morning after sinning a bright and pleasant awakening? Have you never known what it was to curse the fetter which bound you, and to long (even without hoping) to be free? Have you not sometimes looked back upon a past and now unattractive sin with bitter remorse, with astonishment at your own infatuation? Then that experience has shown you what it would be to look back upon a life of sin, from a world where it will be too late ever to repent. A thing which has all these marks of misery upon it cannot be happiness. If there is any power or any person, in earth or in heaven, who can set us free from this influence, the coming of that power or that person may indeed be said to be a blessing. Cost us what it may, it will be a blessing if it succeeds. And when that victory is wrought wholly through the power of love; through an assurance of free forgiveness; through the agency of an inward influence as sweet as it is constraining; how much more may it be so regarded! God grant that each one of us may know it for ourselves!

(Dean Vaughan.)

Lady Somerset at Chicago said that in a fisherman's but in the extreme north-east of Scotland, she saw a picture of our Saviour, and as she stood looking at it the fisherman told her its story: "I was way down with the drink," he said, "when one night I went into a 'public,' and there hung this picture. I was sober then, and I said to the bar-tender, 'Sell me that picture, this is no place for the Saviour.' I gave him all the money I had for it, and took it home. Then, as I looked at it, the words of my mother came back to me, I dropped on my knees, and cried, 'O Lord Jesus, will you pick me up again, and take me out of all my sin?'" No such a prayer is ever unanswered. To-day that fisherman is the grandest man in that little Scotch village. "I asked if he had no struggle to give up liquor; such a look of exultation came over his face as he answered, 'Oh, madam, when such a Saviour comes into the heart He takes the love of drink right out of it.' This Saviour is ready to take every sin out of your heart if only you will let Him."

After the long, sharp winter, a bright, beautiful day comes like a benediction. As I looked up toward the welcome sun, this thought came into my mind: Yonder sun is ninety-six millions of miles away. These rays of light have travelled all that stupendous distance, and yet I have only to drop the curtain of my eyelid and I am left in total darkness. There might as well be no sun as to have his rays shut out at the last instant from this little doorway of my eye. Even so has the Lord Jesus Christ come from His infinite, far-away throne, on His errand of mercy, to a sinner's soul. That sinner has but to close up his heart's door and keep it bolted, and for him there might as well have been no redemption and no Redeemer. Eternal life is refused, eternal death is chosen at that very spot, the door of the human heart.

(T. L. Cuyler.)

When Madame Sontag began her musical career she was hissed off the stage at Vienna by the friends of her rival, Amelia Steininger, who had already begun to decline through her dissipation. Years passed on, and one day Madame Sontag, in her glory, was riding through the streets of Berlin, when she saw a child leading a blind woman, and she said, "Come here, my little child, come here. Who is that you are leading by the hand?" And the little child replied, "That's my mother; that's Amelia Steininger. She used to be a great singer, but she lost her voice, and she cried so much that she lost her eyesight." "Give my love to her," said Madame Sontag, "and tell her an old acquaintance will call on her this afternoon." The next week in Berlin a vast assemblage gathered at a benefit for that poor blind woman, and it was said that Madame Sontag sang that night as she had never sung before. And she took a skilled oculist, who in vain tried to give eyesight to the poor blind woman. Until the day of Amelia Steininger's death, Madame Sontag took care of her, and her daughter after her. That was what the queen of song did for her enemy. But, oh, hear a more thrilling story still. Blind, immortal, poor and lost, thou who, when the world and Christ were rivals for thy heart, didst hiss thy Lord away — Christ comes now to give thee sight, to give thee a home, to give thee heaven. With more than a Sontag's generosity He comes now to meet your need. With more than Sontag's music He comes to plead for thy deliverance.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

We are told, in a simple allegory, that when man was made in the image of God, one of the bright angels about the throne was appointed to wait upon him, and to be his constant companion. After this beautiful image had been marred by sin, Happiness could no longer recognise the Heavenly Father's likeness upon earth, and pined to go back to her happy home on high. Fallen and wretched man now wandered about searching for a friend to make good his loss. He looked on the fair face of Nature, and saw her gay and cheerful; but Nature assured him that she could offer no alleviation for his misery. Love appeared so bright and joyous, that man, in his disappointment, turned next to her; but she timidly shrank back at his approach, while her tender eyes overflowed with tears of sympathy. He now sought friendship, and she sighed and answered, "Caprice, anxiety, and the fear of change are ever before me." Disappointed at these repeated failures, man followed after Vice, who boasted loudly, and promised great things; but even while she talked with him the borrowed roses dropped from her withered brow, and disclosed the wrinkles of sorrow and the deep furrows ploughed by pain. Retreating in haste from the haunts of the vile enchantress, he now sought for Virtue, hoping that the secret of happiness might be learned from her; but she assured him that Penitence was her proper name, and that she was powerless to bestow the boon he craved. Brought down at last to the verge of despair, man applied to grim Death, who relaxed his forbidding aspect, while he answered with a smile: "Happiness can no longer be found upon the earth. I am really the friend of man, and the guide to the blessedness which his heart yearns after. Hearken to the voice of Him who died on the Cross of Calvary, and I will, at last, lead man through the shades of the dark valley to the delectable mountains, where Happiness makes her perpetual abode." The allegory which I have thus tried to .repeat, is a mere expansion of the text. God does not secure happiness to His people —

I. BY MAKING ALL OF THEM RICH. Instead of saying, "Blessed are ye rich," He says, "Blessed are the poor." The only really happy rich man is the one who acts as God's steward, paying his lawful tithes to the Church, and dealing kindly with the suffering poor. Dr. Guthrie says: "Money will buy plenty, but not peace; money will furnish your table with luxuries, but not you with an appetite to enjoy them; money will surround your bed with physicians, but not restore health to your sickly frame: it will encompass you with a crowd of flatterers, but never promise you one true friend; it will bribe into silence the tongues of accusing men, but not an accusing conscience; it will pay some debts, but not one, the least, of your debts to the law of God; it will relieve many fears, but not those of guilt, the terrors that crown the hour of death."

II. By bestowing on us the empty honours of the world. It is true, multitudes imagine that happiness is to be found in them; but experience always proves how grievously they were mistaken. The devil seems to have persuaded himself that even the Son of God could be tempted by such a bribe. A mandarin puffed up with a sense of his high position was fond of appearing in the public streets, sparkling with jewels. He was annoyed, one day, by an uncouth personage, who followed him about, bowing often to the ground, and thanking him for his jewels. "What does the man mean?" cried the mandarin; "I never gave you any of my jewels." "No," returned the other; "but you have let me look at them, and that is all the use you can make of them yourself. The only difference between us is, that you have the trouble of watching them."

III. BY AFFORDING THEM A LARGE SHARE OF WORLDLY PLEASURE. Most of the things which are called "worldly pleasures " not only fail to make people happy, but leave positive misery behind them. And then, the terrible phantom, which, in moments of solitude and silence, must disturb the minds of the most frivolous — the end; when God shall bring all these things into judgment. When the Chevalier Gerard De Kampis, a rich and proud man, had finished his magnificent castle, he gave a great entertainment to all his wealthy neighbours. At the close of the sumptuous banquet, the guests made speech after speech, lauding their host to the skies, and declaring him to be the happiest of men. As the chevalier loved flattery, this fragrant incense was most acceptable; and nothing disturbed his equanimity, until one of the guests who had, thus far, kept silence, gravely remarked: "Sir Knight, in order that your felicity should be complete, you require but one thing, but this is a very important item." "And what thing is that?" demanded the astonished nobleman. "One of your doors must be walled up," replied his guest. At this strange rejoinder several of the guests laughed aloud, and while Gerard himself began to think the man was mad, he preserved self-control enough to ask: "Which door do you mean?" "I mean that through which you will one day be carried to your grave." The words struck both guests and host, and the proud man saw the vanity of all earthly things, and began from that moment to lay up treasure in heaven.

IV. BUT BY SENDING HIS SON JESUS, "TO TURN AWAY EVERY ONE OF THEM FROM HIS INIQUITIES." There can be no salvation for us, unless we are delivered from our sins. God only makes men happy by making them holy (Matthew 1:21). Lycurgus would allow none of his laws to be written, insisting that the principles of government must be interwoven with the lives and manners of the people, as the only sure way of promoting their happiness. He who would abide by the commandments of God must be able to say with David, "Thy word have I hid within my heart." He who will be received into the presence of God and enjoy the blessedness of heaven, is "the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). We are made heirs of glory only by putting on Christ; but we are "made meet for the inheritance of the saints" through a studied and careful conformity to the Divine precept: "Be ye holy, for I am holy." Say of no sin, however trivial it may appear, "Is it not a little one? " but following after holiness, let evil under every possible disguise be your abhorrence.

(J. W. Norton, D. D.)

If a physician were called to see a patient who had a cancer on his breast, the only thing to be done would be to cut it out from the roots. The physician might give palliatives, so that the patient would have less pain — or he might make his patient believe it was no cancer — or forget that he had a cancer near his vitals; but if the physician were to do this instead of removing the evil, he would be a wicked man and the enemy of his patient. The man's case was such that the only favour which could be conferred upon him would be to cut out the cancer. Now all agree that sin is the great evil of the soul of man. Nothing can make man more spiritually happy here, or fit him for happiness hereafter, but the removal of sin from his nature. Sin is the plague-spot on the soul which destroys its peace, and threatens its destruction unless removed. It is therefore certain that if the love of God were manifested towards man, it would be in turning man from sin which produces misery, to holiness which produces happiness.

(J. B. Walker.)

Turning away every one of you from his iniquities
I. THAT THE INDULGENCE OF SIN IS THE GRAND SOURCE OF HUMAN MISERY. We increase by our own transgressions the maladies to which we are naturally exposed: our understandings become more confused; our affections more depraved; our passions, appetites and tempers more unrestrained and virulent; our disappointments more bitter and acute; and all this progressive advancement in evil and misery is the consequence of increasing indulgence in sin.

II. THAT CHRIST ESPECIALLY BLESSES HIS PEOPLE IN TURNING AWAY EVERY ONE OF THEM FROM THEIR INIQUITIES.

1. In that as a prophet He enlightens their understanding to perceive the evil, the misery, and the ruinous consequences of sin, both as it regards the present and the future state.

2. This turning from iniquities is progressive; at first the gross and outward acts of sin are cut off, unlawful and expedient pleasures, and indulgences follow, many things of a doubtful and indifferent nature are then relinquished. The tongue, the temper, the thoughts, are gradually brought more and more under regulation and restraint; holy principles are cultivated; the spirit of fervent charity takes possession of the soul; and pity, meekness, forbearance, compassion, patience, holy resignation, lively hope, and heavenly joy increase and abound.

(T. Webster, B. D.)

The history of man on this side of the grave is like the history of the natural world: the seasons change; if the winter chills, the summer warms; if darkness wraps in its shade, light cheers with its brilliancy. Thus joy and sorrow, hope and fear, satisfaction and perplexity are mingled together. Under these circumstances it is very material to know whether there be any mode of defending ourselves against such an increase of sorrow, and of insuring to ourselves such an increase of comfort. Here in the text is a chart to the wanderer, a light to the benighted, a shelter to the forlorn, a certainty to the dubious! The misery of man lies chiefly in the circumstances of his moral condition; he is wretched under the effects of his iniquities. His remedy must be found in the return of his affections to God; God sent Christ to bless you by turning you away from your iniquities. The sorrows of man mainly issue from the depravity of his affections. He is guilty before God. Certainly his passions, earthly and selfish, spurn every barrier when occasions exasperate their movements. To restrain them under such excitements is as impracticable, as, by the weight of the dews of heaven, to chain down the fiery matter which a volcano is about to cast forth. But to come to individual experience. From whence does the largest portion of man's sufferings arise? Is it not from the disordered state of his affections? Is there not a disease of the heart, which is widely prevalent, and which no skill can heal? To reproduce happiness in a sinful being requires, therefore, a remedy applicable to the inward disease in his mind; a remedy which not only respects a new and favourable relation on the part of God, but also a new and holy state of the affections on the part of man. In other words, the happiness of a sinner will depend first upon, the conviction that God has pardoned him, and secondly, upon the consciousness that he loves the Being who has thus tenderly dealt with him. Now the remedy which Christianity brings forward to the view of him who believes it, is exactly of this kind. "Jesus Christ came to bless you by turning away every one of you from his iniquities." He holds out to us pardon and peace, and He gives us the disposition to love the nature and the heart from which that pardon flows! In this complex operation the means of human happiness are unfolded. The pardon of sin is complete and free, unclogged with any condition or qualification. "There is no more condemnation," but perfect reconciliation and peace. Now the belief in this truth, under the agency of the Spirit, conveys healing to the heart. Sin becomes loathsome when its consequences are thus made visible in the personal sufferings of Jesus Christ, and obedience to the will and mind of God then becomes identical with peace and happiness. Thus Christ blesses by turning away from iniquity, by procuring at once the pardon of sin, and by healing the disease of sin; by restoring peace in the relations between God and man, and by making God's character the glowing object of attractive imitation.

(G. T. Noel, M. A.).

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